Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Philippines: The Movie Star and the Lapdog

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Philippines: The Movie Star and the Lapdog

Article excerpt

Known locally as "America's girl", Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Philippine president, has hitched her nation's well-being to the US president, George W Bush. "In time of crisis," Arroyo said during a 2003 visit to the White House, "friends do not ask why; they ask how." Like Tony Blair, she backed Bush first on Afghanistan and then on Iraq, sending a small military and police contingent there. She also welcomed an expanded US military presence in the Philippines. The two countries have a common interest in quelling Muslim insurgents (al-Qaeda has had a shadowy presence in the Philippines since the early 1990s) and US military aid to Manila rose from $38m in 2001 to $114.5m in 2003. The US and Philippine armed forces now carry out almost continuous joint training missions.

But in May, Arroyo faces elections. George Bush's coat-tails--although they may help Republicans in Kansas--won't belong enough to pull her back into office. Her hand-picked vice-president resigned as foreign secretary and left the ruling party owing to differences over US relations. A left-wing charge that Arroyo is tuta ng 'kano (an American lapdog) has found resonance.

None of this might matter if Arroyo were an effective president. But she has been a mediocre leader, unwilling to take chances or challenge established bastions of political power. Corruption and unpredictable policies fail to inspire investor confidence. The peso is losing value, unemployment is high and steps to stabilise the public finances--by indexing cigarette and alcohol taxes to inflation, for example--have not happened. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.